Biological parents who deliver their babies in hospitals or birthing centers can apply for Social Security Numbers from the (relative) comfort of their beds there.
Adoptive parents must go to their local Social Security office.
When I went to get Jackson’s SSN back in 2007, I went, took a number, waited for 3 hours, came up to the window with Jackson’s birth certificate and adoption decree, and was then told I didn’t need the adoption decree, I needed proof that Jackson was still alive.
I am not making this up.
The woman said a vaccination record would do. I told her, “We don’t do shots.” She stared at me blankly. Eventually, she decided that a doctor’s bill would be acceptable. I politely demanded an appointment to come back, and she gave me one, even though they don’t generally do appointments for SSNs. I came back, waited half an hour, and was told that Jackson’s birthmother had applied for an SSN, so I was just going to get a new card, not a new number. I still don’t know what happened to that card, so I have to check Jackson’s credit every 5-7 years to make sure no one stole his identity.
I had totally forgotten that Cassie needed an SSN. She was born in 10/2011, we finalized her adoption in 1/2013, and didn’t get her birth certificate until 8/2013. At that point, I totally forgot we needed an SSN. The IRS sent me a letter stating that her Adoption Tax Identifier Number (ATIN) was going to expire, so I realized, “Crap! I have to go get Cassie a Social Security Number.”
I was all set to go last Thursday, when I looked up what docs I needed on the web site. According to the web site, to prove the child’s identity, I needed a picture ID, or I had to bring the child in with me.
We can accept only certain documents as proof of your child’s identity. An acceptable document must show your child’s name, identifying information and preferably a recent photograph. Your child must be present unless the picture ID also shows your child’s biographical information (i.e., age, date of birth, or parents’ names).
That sounded strange, but I’d rather bring Cassie with me, wait, get the number, and find out that I didn’t actually need her, than not bring Cassie, wait, and find out I needed her to get the number.
Monday, I went down to the SS office with Cassie in tow. We got there at 9:33, the place opened at 9:00, and it was already packed. There were no seats. We took a spot on the floor. After about half an hour, one of Cassie’s preschool teachers arrived. She sat with us, which was a real blessing. We left just after 11:30, while they were still 5 numbers away from calling ours. They were calling a new number about every 20 minutes.
It took four tries to get through to the SS office on the phone. The woman (Laurie) said I didn’t need to bring Cassie; I had to bring the child only if s/he were over 12. She said that a medical bill would be fine.
Thursday morning, I got to the office at 9:19. This time, there were a few seats available. I sat and read my book (The Mark of Athena) and did some Facebook on my phone. I was finally called at about 10:20.
I had some waiting to do at the desk. The agent asked for Cassie’s birth certificate and my ID. No problem. He then asked for Cassie’s health plan card. That’s usually not a problem, but Max was the last one to take her to the doctor, so I didn’t have it. I said, “I have an insurance claim, explanation of benefits.” He said, “No.” I said, “I have a doctor’s bill.” He started to deny me, but I said, “I called the office and the woman I spoke to said that a doctor’s bill would be fine.” He started to say something about a shot record, and I said, “We don’t do shots. When I got my son’s number in 2007, I brought a doctor’s bill.”
The web site states that a doctor, clinic, or hospital record is acceptable proof of ID. A bill is a record.
He had to go to his supervisor to ask if it was OK. He also asked, “Why did you wait so long to get her Social Security Number?”
Oh bureaucratic dude… if only you knew.
At 10:58, I was out of the office, on my way home. Cassie has an SSN now! So, now, she will be eligible for the Earned Income Credit. (But that’s another post.)
For the record, as of this writing, you need the following documentation to get a new SSN for a child under age 12 who was born in the US:
- Birth certificate, showing the adoptive parents as the legal parents.
- Photo ID for the adoptive parent applying for the card (I used my driver’s license).
- Adoption decree.
- Health plan card, vaccination record, or other medical record, including a doctor’s bill; religious record (baptismal certificate); daycare or school record; or school ID card.